Most of us who frequent Canberra’s cafes would be aware of the recent spread of the $2 surcharge on credit card transactions. I am not starting this discussion regarding this charge itself, or whatever reasons (presumably passed on bank charges) cafe owners consider it neccessary to impose it. I don’t even particularly object to it; it’s a free market and cafe owners are legally entitled to charge it, and patrons are similarly entitled to either pay up or take their custom elswhere. The ‘rip off’ label in the title of this post refers not to imposition of the charge itself, but rather the fact that in most of these cafes, there is no prior indication that it will be charged. There is no sign on the door or table, and nothing written on the menu- just the verbal advice of the cashier, or a sign at the payment counter, AFTER you have consumed your meal or snack and no longer have the option of deciding to eat there or not.
Canberrans need to understand that in such circumstances, they are under no legal obligation whatsoever to pay a fee that they had no idea they would be charged for. My strong advice to anyone finding out about it for the first time at the payment counter is to point blank refuse to pay it. And, if the cashier repeatedly refuses to accept your offer of payment minus the illegal $2 charge, then my understanding is that you are perfectly entitled to walk out without paying at all, because you offered to pay what you legally owed and they refused to accept it. So Canberrans, refuse to pay what you don’t owe, and cafe owners, if you are going to impose this charge then be up-front, not sneaky about it!